Canada wants to attract more French speaking immigrants, but the move has been criticised amid claims that others arriving in the main French speaking part of the country are struggling with the language.
According to Immigration Minister John McCallum, Francophone newcomers make an important contribution to Canada and highlight the nation’s commitment to ensuring the vitality of Francophone communities and rich bilingualism.
He pointed out that the Government has taken a number of steps to increase the number of Francophones settling in Canada, including promoting Francophone minority communities to French speaking foreign nationals abroad.
It has also been encouraging the use of the Provincial Nominee Programme, fostering Francophone services to French speaking immigrants, working with employers to promote Francophone foreign nationals for permanent jobs in Canada, and consulting with Francophone minority communities on new measures.
The Immigration department has also re-established the Labour Market Impact Assessment exemption that allows employers in Francophone minority communities to recruit French speaking workers to highly skilled jobs on a temporary basis.
However, a report from the political party Coalition Avenir Quebec suggests that many newcomers to the city where French is spoken do not have a good enough grasp of the language and they should be encouraged to improve their skills rather than targeting more fluent French speakers.
It also suggests that non-French speaking immigrants should be given more help to learn the language, including free lessons and adds that the French language in Quebec is losing ground as around 200,000 new Quebecers don’t speak it.
Spokesman Clare Samson, a member of the National Assembly, said many women, for example, are cut off from society and can’t help their children with school because they are not given proper access to French language classes.
Samson explained that she has spent the last six months interviewing 23 immigrant support groups, immigration experts and demographers and concluded that Quebec must pump an additional $175 million a year into integration if it wants to keep its French language alive and well, and its workforce productive.
‘Some of those French classes are given in buildings that are not suitable for the learning process. They have no equipment, no computers, they bring their own dictionaries to class. We have to realise that if we’re to welcome 40,000 new immigrants every year, we have to take responsibility,’ she added.
Quebec has already announced it will raise the number of immigrants it accepts annually to 51,000 in 2017/2018 and to 52,500 in 2019.